Actual Media

Making a Connection

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It has taken seven years to get to this point, but Transport Canada says by this time next year, companies will be bidding to build a new bridge linking the cities of Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

In between now and then, a lot of preliminary work is needed. The project involves four levels of government: the government of Ontario and the federal government, the U.S. government and the state of Michigan. Add a private corporation and coordinating this project becomes very complicated.

Transport Canada plans to use a public-private partnership to build the new gateway to the U.S. The six-lane bridge will span between 600 metres to 1.3 kilometres, with a dedicated lane for users of the NEXUS/FAST system to fast-track across the border. There will also be a number of toll plazas as part of the project, but Transport Canada has yet to determine how many.

The bridge will be financed by one or more private companies who will make their money back by charging a toll to cross the bridge. Transport Canada’s Mark Butler, who is working directly on the gateway project, says P3s save the government money, while helping out the private sector. “Simply put, P3s allow a government to use funds for other things that are not eligible for P3s, such as investing in health care and education,” he says. “It’s the best of both worlds. You can use private financing for design, build and operation, but at the same time, you maintain oversight and ownership of the project. So you have public oversight, yet you’re not using public funds to actually build the project.”

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